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Posts from the ‘Repair’ Category

A Visit to Bicycle Roots Bike Shop in Crown Heights

What’s different about New York City from Central Illinois? Artist Kathy Creutzburg pays a visit to Joe, Nechama, Herschel and Steven at Bicycle Roots Bike Shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.




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A Wheel That is Not Round, Part One

As I pushed off for home the other evening upon the conclusion of a convivial gathering, from my rear wheel came a Strange Noise that had not accompanied me on my outbound journey.  A kind of shuddering rasping sound, as if something had become stuck to the tire and was rubbing against the fender with every revolution of the wheel.

I had been looking forward to a moment in the fresh air, the better to reminisce upon the party’s highlights, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that this wheel flopping around like a load of sneakers in a washing machine  made negotiating the distance between Tribeca and Brooklyn seem like a trip across the Darien Gap.  No mental effort, it seemed, no matter how concentrated, could turn my thoughts from dreadful musing.

“What the hell is that damn noise?”

Usually a noise like that is the announcement of a flat tire scheduled to arrive within seconds. But this time, inspection at a red light revealed nothing stuck on the tire, removal of which would have been followed by the dismal hissing sound of the air inside the tube returning to its natural home. By the time I vibrated to a stop,  mid-buzz, in front of my building, annoyance had been replaced by relief I’d been spared a flat tire repair in some murky region of of the Manhattan Bridge. An experience, even under the best of circumstances, of which the only good thing is a prolonged moment with the spectacular view.


When I got the bike into the light, I saw this:

This tire has a hernia.

“My tire has a hernia,” I said into the telephone the next morning.

“I have to see it,” Mike replied viagra or cialis, “but it sounds like a ruptured casing. If that’s what it is, you need a new tire.”

The tire casing, the mesh that makes an anonymous blob of rubber hold the shape of a bicycle tire, can rupture for different reasons. For example, prolonged friction, as in the case of some irregularity like a mal-adjusted brake or a bent wheel.  But because this hernia was right on the front of the tire, the cause was probably some sharp obstruction in the street, like riding hell-bent over the sharp edge of a metal plate, or a pothole.

A painful memory swam into consciousness.

Right in front of the Brooklyn Hospital, at the corner of Ashland Place and DeKalb, there is an evil little pothole in the very middle of the bike lane. There’s always a lot of action at that intersection; a couple of bus stops produce a constant supply of pedestrians crossing every which way, not to mention hospital inmates desperate for a cigarette rolling their wheelchairs right out into the street. This constant commotion, as entertaining as it is perilous, requires the survival-minded bicyclist’s full attention, so I’ve never actually seen this pothole.

Nonetheless, I know it’s there, having nearly lost a couple of back teeth from the violence of the introduction to its particular contours. It must be about a foot deep. The first few times I took that route I rode into it head on, causing the unfortunate region of my person at that moment reposing upon the bicycle seat to rise abruptly into the air like the puck in a carnival high striker game.

Like Shakespeare’s croaking raven, upon the $25.00 bicycle tire so doth the unseen pothole bellow for revenge.

go to open call

How to Fix Your Flat

levitra cupons

How to know when your bike needs a tune-up

It doesn’t seem like anything should happen to a machine when it’s just been sitting around for a few months, but to this thought I would like to add one word: gravity.  And if that’s not enough, here are three more: moisture, heat, and fungus. I get an insecure feeling when it seems like I’m pedaling a noisy collection of bolts and cables whose slight acquaintance with each other might end at any moment when they decide to head for destinations other than my own.

My 3-speed was purchased at a flea market, so let’s just say it’s not a silent machine. But there’s noise and there’s noise.

Before getting on a bicycle that has been sitting around all winter, it’s a good idea to look it over carefully.

The most important things to look at are the tires, and the brakes.


Cables stretch with use, and they rust. If there’s any rust on cables, they should be replaced immediately. When brakes are fully engaged, the levers should be about an inch away from the handlebar.  It’s easy to tighten brake cables if they’re just a little bit loose.

caliper brakes

For brakes to grip the wheel efficiently, the rubber pads are adjusted so they toe in toward the front. This makes them wear down unevenly. When they start looking triangular, they should be replaced.

rotten tire

Rubber rots, especially when it’s not in use. If a tire has dry rot hgh human growth, it looks cracked. When it’s inflated, or beneath the weight of the rider, a rotted tire could pull off the rim, and the bike will just slide out from under the rider.

Tires wear out. When a tire is no longer looking round, but flattened on the part that comes in contact with the road, it should probably be replaced. If the casing cord, the backing that makes a rubber tire hold its shape, is visible, the tire needs to be replaced.

tire inflation

My bicycle was made in 1969. I found this out reading Sheldon Brown’s entertaining and encyclopedic site, where I learned that Sturmey-Archer hubs have the date of manufacture stamped on them. I think this bike must have sat in someone’s garage for 35 years or so because it was in such good condition, even its fine green paint hardly scratched. Alas, no longer!

Since I use it every day, one by one, its original parts are being replaced. I think the seat is going to be the next thing to go.

A couple weeks ago I noticed one of the brake shoes sliding out of its clip, not a good thing at all. When I put it back in I discovered “JOHN BULL” spelled out in molded raised rubber letters on the sides of the shoe.

It’s going to kill me to replace those.

john bull brake shoe



 Bicycle parts models courtesy of Red Lantern Bicycles